Chinese/API Voter Outreach Taskforce (photo credit: Han Li/San Francisco Standard)

The Political Earthquake of San Francisco’s Newest Voters

Joel Engardio


By Joel P. Engardio

When the story is written about the historic effort to recall San Francisco’s school board, it must include the Chinese/API parents and grandparents who organized their community to vote for the first time. It’s a political earthquake in the making with no going back.

Ann Hsu. Kit Lam. Laurance Lee. These are the heroes — along with many others — who had never been active in local politics until the school board went off the rails. Awakened, they found each other and worked tirelessly to collect signatures and register voters.

If the school board recall is a success, we will have the Chinese/API Voter Outreach Taskforce to thank. It’s a big name for a group that started small. But we will feel the impact for years to come because of the potential Ann Hsu has unleashed.

In just six weeks, Ann Hsu’s volunteer group registered 560 new voters (418 first time voters and 142 non-citizen parents eligible to vote in school board elections). This level of engagement is unprecedented and unmatched, even by the most well-funded campaigns.

The potential impact is real. Plenty of local political races were determined by less than 500 votes. The Board of Supervisors would look very different if candidates in districts 1, 5, and 7 had 500 extra votes. Only a couple thousand votes put our current mayor in office.

“We have educated many residents who have never paid attention to voting on the importance of voting,” Ann Hsu says.

“We have worked really hard to get people to register to vote, and we want their true voices to be heard,” says taskforce volunteer Selena Chu.

Every elected official — and everyone who seeks office — will have to answer to the newly awakened Chinese/API voters. The first question: Did you stand with families and support the school board recall?

Read the point-by-point case for recalling the school board.

Originally published at on February 7, 2022.



Joel Engardio

Forward-thinking + pragmatic Democrat, civil liberties advocate, award-winning journalist, Westside SF homeowner. My local views at